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What Should An Unmanaged Earnings Distribution Look Like?

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  • Olivier Vidal

    () (GREG - CRC - Groupe de recherche en économie et en gestion - Centre de recherche en comptabilité - CNAM - Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers [CNAM])

Abstract

In asserting that the number of firms reporting small profits is abnormally high, thus suggesting that earnings management has taken place, accounting researchers assume that the distribution of reported earnings should be smooth for unmanaged earnings. This has never in fact been demonstrated. This article seeks to confirm this assumption through a laboratory experiment, and also sets out to identify the general distribution pattern to be expected for unmanaged earnings. Normal distribution does not appear to be a good fit. The study's results also highlight the existence of downward management of earnings by firms with higher-than-average profits.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Vidal, 2010. "What Should An Unmanaged Earnings Distribution Look Like?," Post-Print hal-00594838, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00594838 Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00594838
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    File URL: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00594838/document
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R. & Rajgopal, Shiva, 2005. "The economic implications of corporate financial reporting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1-3), pages 3-73, December.
    2. Cindy Durtschi & Peter Easton, 2005. "Earnings Management? The Shapes of the Frequency Distributions of Earnings Metrics Are Not Evidence Ipso Facto," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 557-592, September.
    3. Burgstahler, David & Dichev, Ilia, 1997. "Earnings management to avoid earnings decreases and losses," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 99-126, December.
    4. Degeorge, Francois & Patel, Jayendu & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1999. "Earnings Management to Exceed Thresholds," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72(1), pages 1-33, January.
    5. David Holland & Alan Ramsay, 2003. "Do Australian companies manage earnings to meet simple earnings benchmarks?," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 43(1), pages 41-62.
    6. Roychowdhury, Sugata, 2006. "Earnings management through real activities manipulation," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 335-370, December.
    7. Das, Somnath & Zhang, Huai, 2003. "Rounding-up in reported EPS, behavioral thresholds, and earnings management," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 31-50, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Dilger & Sabine Graschitz, 2015. "Influencing Factors on Earnings Management, Empirical Evidence from Listed German and Austrian Companies," International Journal of Business and Economic Sciences Applied Research (IJBESAR), Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Institute of Technology (EMATTECH), Kavala, Greece, vol. 8(2), pages 69-86, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    accounting threshold; Earnings management; earnings distribution; experiment; accounting threshold.;

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